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City suspends Augusta Fire Department’s ambulance service for a year

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 4:56 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 4:30 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Following months of complaints and concerns, Augusta Commission has voted to end the Augusta Fire Department’s ambulance service for one year.

Now the city is trying to figure out exactly how this changes the 911 medical response.

And the Augusta Legal Department has 30 days to come up with a detailed plan, plus its impact on public safety.

But after that plan gets figured out, the Augusta Fire department will suspend ambulance services for one year -- meaning if you have a 911 medical emergency that requires an ambulance, Gold Cross would transport you.

This stems from the results of an assessment on the Augusta Fire Department. The review concluded that back in September, there should be changes within the agency.

The consulting firm, McGrath, found high turnover rates, ongoing mandatory overtime, and staffing issues on ambulances and at fire stations. All of the commissioners received the report two weeks ago, but today was the first public discussion on it.

“We do have to realize there is a problem somewhere, whether it be at the top or the bottom—whether it be a driver or the man on the board, there is still a problem somewhere. Our fire department needs to be apart saving lives, protecting property,” District 9 Commissioner Marion Williams.

At first, the motion was to suspend Chief Chris James, ultimately that was not voted on.

The commission instead suspended the ambulance services to relieve some of the concerns they say. There could be new votes or proposals in future commission meetings that could replace all of this.

However, leaders say this is the right option for now.

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